Cow tipping, p.1
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       Cow Tipping, p.1

           Jon Sager
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Cow Tipping
Cow Tipping

  By Jon E Sager

  Copyright 2012 Jon E Sager

  The hallway seemed to stretch forever. Dim fluorescent tubes cast faint pools of light on the plain white linoleum floor. Plain white metal doors line the walls every fifteen feet or so. It was… institutional. Evan reached out to the nearest handle and shook it. Locked, just like the last five he tried. He would have to whip it out and water the wall if he didn’t find a bathroom soon.

  Evan had already forgotten how long he’d been walking down the hall. His need to urinate blocked most rational thought. He walked to the next door and shook the handle.

  Suddenly his stomach started to cramp. He really needed to release, and soon. His knees clamped together, his arms desperately clutch his stomach, his eyes tightly shut as he falls face first onto the ground with a solid thump.

  

  He opens his eyes to stare at the old wood floor of his bedroom. Faint moon glow out the open window replaces the fluorescent tubes. A cool September breeze moves the curtains.

  “Evan, you fall out the bed again?” Evan’s wife’s voice floated over the bed.

  Evan didn’t answer immediately. He pulls himself to his feet and shuffled to the bathroom. Thirty seconds later he emerges from the bathroom and walked to the window. “Babe, you opened the window again.”

  “Huh?” Evan’s wife was barely awake, but he finds her beautiful anyway. It doesn’t stop him from being irritated, though.

  “You opened the window again.”

  “Did not.”

  “I think you’re sleep walking.”

  “I suppose you think I pushed you off the bed too. Third time in two weeks.”

  “Yeah, yeah.”

  Outside the window, the corn field that surrounds Evan’s back yard sways in the breeze. A low trill from some bird wafts from the field as he closes the window.

  

  The parking lot of Montcliff High School was bustling as usual. Evan Parker pulled his two year old Honda Accord in the spot marked “Reserved for Principal”. He stretches as he gets out and shuts the door. Last night has him drained. The last two weeks have him drained.

  Evan’s parking space is only about a dozen yards from the main entrance, but he never uses it. He much preferred to walk around the right side of the building through the bus drop and across the front of the student parking lot. Evan never missed an opportunity to observe his students, and his morning walk allowed him to do it in a relaxed manner.

  Evan’s walk through the bus drop was uneventful and he now walks along the sidewalk that separates the student lot from the school’s side yard. Ahead, in the parking spot directly in front of the sidewalk that lead to the side entrance, sits a sea foam green ’55 Chevy lead sled. It’s air suspension setting the frame right onto the ground. That parking spot has a sign just like Evan’s, only it reads “Reserved for Honor Student”.

  “Honor Student” this month (and two out of three months in the last two years) was Jose Eduardo Leon. Jose played every Latino stereotype Evan knew about and made it work. His car, his dress, even the over-the-top fake accent dripped with parody of his own heritage.

  Evan respected Jose a great deal. Jose managed to walk the fine line between popularity and success with a skill Evan has not seen in his twelve years as a teacher and principal. Evan also was in love with the car, which at the present moment, was blaring the standard thump that accompanied the music of today’s youth.

  Evan rapped the hood of the car with the palm of his hand as he passed. Jose, leaning against the driver’s door talking among friends, reaches into the window and turns the volume down.

  “Sorry, homes. Just enjoying my tunes.” Jose’s forced accent carefully calculated to make his apology barely understandable.

  “The whole neighborhood was enjoying your tunes.” Evan continues along his walk as Jose turned back to his conversation.

  “You got to do it, man, it’s tradition.” Joey jumped right back in.

  “Don’t know, gringo, sounds kinda lame to me.”

  “Most traditions are. That’s the fun.”

  “When?”

  “Friday, after the game.”

  “What if they wake up?”

  Carlos, Montcliff’s other resident Latino teen, fields this question, “They won’t. Even if they did, they’d be too groggy to do anything.”

  Pregnant pause.

  “OK, I’m in.”

  

  Evan manages to make it through the day only dozing off twice, and only once in front of a student. Not the best way to project authority, but you do what you can. If he doesn’t get some sleep, some good sleep, real soon he might lose it. Maybe, this time, he’ll try the sleeping pills. Or bourbon. Or both.

  

  “Mr. Leon, would you care to explain to me what you find so interesting out the window?”

  “Nothing, yo. Just a little distracted today.”

  “We, un-distract yourself if you want to keep your good grades.”

  

  Evan decides on bourbon. Doesn’t please the misses, but he needs the sleep. He stumbles though his bedroom, into the bath and made his final pit stop for the night. He manages to get undressed before collapsing onto the bed.

  

  The hallway seemed to stretch forever. Dim fluorescent tubes cast faint pools of light on the plain white linoleum floor. Plain white metal doors line the walls every fifteen feet or so. It was… institutional. Evan reached out to the nearest handle and shook it. Locked, just like the last five he tried.

  No need to eliminate water, thankfully. He looked down the hallway, first in the direction he was going, then back the way he came. There wasn’t a difference that Evan could make out. One more look forward, one more ba....

  Evan’s mind froze for a moment. In the shadowy areas between the pools of light, way in the distance, his eyes caught movement. He stared at the point where his eyes caught the shift of movement, but no more came.

  If something was there, if there was movement, nothing was happening now.

  

  In a pasture, on a farm, three farms over from the one that surrounds Evan’s house a single large oak sits halfway up the small hill that marks an otherwise featureless field. Most of the cattle rooming in this particular pasture are grouped around the oak for the night. A few, some who prefer to sleep alone, some still grazing, are spread along the outer edges of the field.

  “They layin’ down. You said they slept standin’ up.” Jose is angry. They goaded him into coming. They dragged him out into the boonies, even by local standards. They promised him standing, sleeping cows. And here he was, in a stand of trees looking through a barbed wire fence at an entire herd of cattle... lying down.

  “Look. There’s one standing over there. We’ll do him.” Mark really wants this to happen.

  “He’s awake.” The anger in Jose’s voice is clear, his trademark accent… gone.

  “She’s awake... barely. We’ll be fine.” The assuredness in Mark’s voice is false. Nobody is really buying, either.

  

  Evan had tried a dozen more doors before finding one whose handle turned. The door didn’t open, mind you. But the handle turned. Evan nearly dislocated his shoulder beating himself against the cold, white rectangle.

  He turned and leaned with his back against the door, panting. He slowly closes his eyes as the world starts to spin and lose focus.

  

  When the nausea subsides Evan opens his eyes to stare at the dust building up under his bed. He is on the floor again, this time stiff as a board. He has been down here for quite a while, a few hours at least.

  A quick glance at the alarm c
lock shows 5:47, a few minutes before it will go off. He switches the clock out of alarm mode as he shuffles to the open window.

  “You was on the floor when I came back” his wife calls from the bathroom. “You seemed quite comfortable down there so I left you.” She is still angry about Evan getting drunk.

  “And you opened the window again.”

  “No, no, naw. It was open when I came back. Don’t you hang that on me.”

  Outside the window, the corn field that surrounded Evan’s back yard sways in the breeze. A low trill from some bird wafts from a shuffle of movement in the field as he closes the window.

  

  Evan is feeling good as he makes his morning trek around his school. Even on the floor he got good sleep and he feels better than he has in weeks. The only thing ruining this pleasant moment in time is the nagging concern in the back of his head over how he got on the floor in the first place. He is sure he started the night in bed.

  As he passes the “Honor Student” parking space the normally animated group of boys is strangely quiet. Jose is staring at the ground in front of him. Carlos gives Evan a passing head nod. The others just look distracted.

  

  Jose is biting his tongue as Mr. Brown walked by. As soon has it was clear he blurts out exactly what was on his mind. “We killed it. It’s going to die.”

  “No, we didn’t. It was limping, that’s all.” Mark has taken on the role of chief rationalizer.

  “They kill hobbled animals.”

  “It’s a cow. It’s going to get killed so you can get your Burger King.”

  Carlos buts in. “We didn’t even get it over.”

  “Oh, I think it counts” replies Mark.

  “Well,” Carlos says, looking directly at Mark, “I’ll let you have all the points.”

  

  “You’re kidding. No one has tried that in three years. I thought everyone had gotten over that.” Evan is having a hard time keeping a smile from his face.

  Evan’s assistant principal, Joan, is getting irked with him, “They busted it’s knee. Smith’s best milk producer. Now he’s putting it up in the next auction, just to try and recover something.”

  “So, who did it?”

  “Your guess....”

  Evan took a deep sigh and turns and looks out his office window.

  

  At that same moment Jose and Mark stare intently at the worm wriggling in the tray before them. Mr. Christof, the science teacher, drones instructions from the front of the room.

  “As you can see, they are still alive. If you follow the instructions carefully, you’ll be able to see the circulatory system in action after you open it up.”

  “I am naught opening this thing up!” pipes up a cute brunette girl in the back. Most likely a cheerleader. There is a perceptible pause between the words “naught” and “opening” to add emphasis.

  “Then you will not pass my class.” Mr. Christof matches the pause between words in an attempt at sarcasm, but his monotone delivery makes him sound like a robot instead. “You will pin your worm to the rubber pad as shown in the diagram on the board. You need to make sure you can get your knife down the center of the subject, but must also make sure it cannot move.”

  Jose stares dumbfounded at the worm. Becoming impatient, Mark pulls the tray to him and begins the process of pinning it to the rubber mat in the tray.

  “We gotta go back.”

  Mark looks up from his work. “Huh?”

  “We gotta go back tonight.”

  “Huh? Thought you didn’t have the stomach for that.” Mark lapses into mild baby talk at the end of the sentence.

  “No. We are going back to see if it’s alright.”

  

  That afternoon Evan re-traces his steps from the morning across the front of the student parking area on his way back to the car. He notices the spot marked with the ”Reserved for Honor Student” sign is already empty. He is thinking, what about tonight? Bourbon? Maybe Tequila?

  At least Evan will not need to face his wife over it. Her niece just had her first baby and she was on her way to visit. A few weeks earlier and he would have went with her, but with the start of term, he could not afford to be away from school.

  It has taken only a few drinks to get Evan nice and relaxed. He stumbles to bed, first checking the damn window his wife keeps opening. It is shut, thankfully. One last stop in the bathroom and Evan curls up into bed and falls into a deep slumber.

  

  The hallway seemed to stretch forever. Dim fluorescent tubes cast faint pools of light on the plain white linoleum floor. Plain white metal doors line the walls every fifteen feet or so. It was… institutional. Evan reached out to the nearest handle and shook it. Locked, just like the last five he tried.

  Looking forward down the long hallway seems different to Evan this time. To him there was a shift of color. The floor seem to darken in the distance, the walls taking on a faint green hue. Curious, Evan walked forward.

  As Evan walked forward the floor became dingy, the walls faint green turned darker and darker. Evan clutched his arms together as claustrophobia sets in. He was sure the walls were moving in, that the corridor was narrowing.

  Setting himself against the fear, Evan pressed on. The dingy floor became a dirty floor, giving way to just dirt. The walls no longer had doors, but have taken on a rough texture and were a glossy, deep green. Looking up, Evan realizes that the ceiling has given way to a dark, cloudy sky backed by the full moon. Looking back down, Evan sees nothing but corn stalks, their green leaves glistening in the little moonlight that has forced its way through the clouds.

  He stopped short, turning around several time in confusion. The familiar floating sensation entering his head reminds this is a dream. He closes his eyes.

  

  Evan opens his eyes to stare at the clock on his night stand. He is not quite awake, but at least he is still in bed. In the groggy reaches of his mind, he feels as if tiny hands, the size of a baby’s, are placing themselves on his back. The feeling persists as he his head slowly clears.

  Evan freezes in fear. The hands, while small, have strength behind them. In one heave they shove Evan out of his bed and face first onto the floor.

  Evan hears a flurry of movement overhead as he struggles to his feet. Looking at the window, now open, he sees a small something just clearing the window sill and dropping to the ground below. It makes a bird like trilling noise.

  Evan runs to the window. There is nothing in the backyard for Evan to see, but in the corn field, some ways off, is a light. The light is moving away from Evan’s house a great speed.

  

  As night falls Jose and crew pull up to the same field from the previous night. The field is empty.

  Mark jumps on Jose. “See, you’re wasting our time. There’s nothing here.”

  Jose crawls through the fence anyways and walks quickly toward the solitary tree. Mark follows impatiently while the rest lean nervously to the car.

  “Jose, get back here. Let’s go.” Mark reaches instinctively for Jose’s shoulder. Sensing it, Jose quickens his pace.

  Standing at the tree gives a good view of the surrounding countryside. On the far side of the field was a tree line some two hundred feed deep that separated this field from a field of tall corn. Three small houses embed themselves along the corn field’s right edge.

  A small bluish light moves quickly in the middle of the cornfield, toward the trees.

  “That’s a cop, man, let’s go Jose!” Mark grabs his friend’s shoulder and tugs, yet Jose does not move.

  Mark tugs again, yet Jose remains transfixed by the light in the corn field.

  “Let’s go you stupid Mexican!” Mark tries to eat the last word, regretting it as he speaks it.

  Jose, broken from his trance, grabs Mark by the front of his shirt and shoves him roughly against the tree. “I was b
orn in Kansas, you stupid ass.”

  “I know, I know… Sorry.”

  Jose lets go of Mark and turns back to the corn field as the light enters the tree line. “Besides, “ he notes in flat tones, “my family is from Honduras.”

  

  Evan considers following the light into the field, but he already gotten lost in rows of corn tonight, metaphorically at least. He shuts the windows and returns to his bed.

  

  The light that Mark and Jose are entranced by disappears into the trees. Less than ten seconds later a fury of a dozen or so red and blue lights blink on and off in the woods for only a few seconds.

  Mark has had enough. He turns and runs toward the car. “I told you it was a cop. Get a move on, you Honduro-Kansan.”

  Jose follows, overtakes the other boy, and beats him to the car. Waiting for him at the car were the other boys and two county sheriff’s deputies.

  “Well boys,” says the first deputy, “let’s go to town and have a talk.”

  

  Evan spends the rest of the night awake, not willing to fall asleep.

  

  Evan stares blankly out his office window, waiting for his first appointment of the morning. A disciplinary meeting he was not looking forward to. The is a knock at the door.

  “Come in.”

  The door opens and a county deputy, tall and bulky, walks into the room and takes up a position off to one side. Behind the officer walks Jose, head down and clearly upset.

  “Sit” the officer speaks gruffly. Jose sits.

  Evan does not let a pause grow. “I’m up to speed on what happened. Pretty stupid, if you ask me. What I don’t know is why this is a school matter.”

  “Well sir, his parents are travelling, won’t be home for a month. The sheriff thought you’d be able to discipline him while the wound is still fresh.”

  Evan sighs heavily. “OK. I’ll figure out how to deal with it.”

  The deputy gives a respectful nod and leaves.

  “So, Jose. I have an idea. Evening detention. Meet me at my house at 10.”

  Jose looks up confused.

  

  Evan leads Jose around the backside of his house.

  “I’ve been having problems with… critters… getting into the house.”

  “Sir?”

  “See that window there? The lock is busted and something is opening it up and getting into the house. It runs off before I can catch it.”

  “O… K.”

  “I want you to stay here and watch the window. If some… critter goes into the window, run over and shut it.”

 
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